Scriptural Discussion #10: Faith—Living By, Better Than Living By Knowledge


FAITH—LIVING BY, BETTER THAN LIVING BY KNOWLEDGE

Alma said, “And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved. And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word? Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.” (Alma 32: 13-16)

Jesus said, “And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.” (3 Nephi 12:1-2)

Discuss.

Next Scriptural Discussion: #11 GIFTS AND POWERS OF THE SPIRIT—DEFINED AS GOOD WORKS

Previous Scriptural Discussion: #9 EQUALITY

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The interpolation of a footnote


And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; for, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. (D&C 49: 18-19)

There is so much confusion about the meaning of this sentence among latter-day saints. The problem lies in that when a person reads “forbiddeth to abstain from meats,” they can’t seem to process the phrase. Then, when they read the next phrase, “that man should not eat the same,” they erroneously think that this phrase is clarifying and defining the action of the person who is doing the forbidding, and not the action of the person who is doing the abstaining.

An erroneous and misleading footnote

There is also a footnote to the word “forbiddeth” found in verse 18 which is erroneous, which reads: “IE biddeth to abstain, see v. 19.”

This footnote would have us believe that the word “forbiddeth” was erroneously written and should be instead “biddeth,” which means the exact opposite. The only reasoning we are given of why we should substitute a word which means the exact opposite for the word that is actually in the revelation, is that verse 19, according to whoever put in this footnote, suggests that the Lord is stressing that meat “is ordained for the use of man for food” and therefore this is the reason why a person who “bids to abstain from meats” would be contrary to the will of the Lord and not a person who “forbids to abstain from meats.”

The section and verse headings

Additionally, the section heading gives this information: “Some of the beliefs of the Shakers were that…the eating of pork was specifically forbidden, and many did not eat any meat;…The revelation refuted some of the basic concepts of the Shaker group.”

Because of the comments found in the section heading, specifically, that this revelation refuted some of the basic concepts of the Shaker group and that one of these basic concepts was the abstaining from pork, we are immediately conditioned upon reading the revelation that the verses which deal with the eating of animal flesh will contain a refutation of abstaining from meats. But just to make sure that this idea is sunk deep into our minds, regardless of what the revelation says, we find that the verse heading summarizes verses 17-21 as being an approval of eating meat: “17-21, Eating of meat is approved;

Faulty logic

All of this reasoning is completely faulty, devoid of logic and of simple English grammar. Let’s take a look at this scripture and pick it apart, using the simple rules of English.

And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

Definitions of the words involved

Everyone knows what the word “forbiddeth” means, but in case there are some who still haven’t learned its definition, I will write it here, taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary:

Definition of Forbid

1 : to proscribe from or as if from the position of one in authority : command against <the law forbids stores to sell liquor to minors> <her mother forbids her to go>
2 : to hinder or prevent as if by an effectual command <space forbids further treatment here>

Most people know what the words “command against”, “hinder” and “prevent” mean, but some may not know what the word “proscribe” means, so I again write its definition here, taken from the above mentioned dictionary:

Definition of Proscribe

1 : to publish the name of as condemned to death with the property of the condemned forfeited to the state
2 : to condemn or forbid as harmful or unlawful : PROHIBIT

Finally, in case a person is unsure of the meaning of the word “abstain,” I include its definition here:

Definition of Abstain

: to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice

From the above definitions, it is apparent that both definitions of the word “forbid” can apply to this revelation. In the case of definition #1 of “forbid,” a person can forbid to abstain from meats by condemning, either publicly or privately, the practice of abstention from meats, calling those who practice abstention sinners and/or unhealthy; or he may forbid the practice of abstention from meats, using it as a sign of unworthiness for any number of callings or even for a temple recommend. Those who forbid in this manner would be persons garbed in the authority of the priesthood or persons who acted as if they possessed authority to speak against the practice of abstention from meats. Such people may actually command a congregation or group of church members against practicing abstention from meats and preach that such a practice is of the devil.

In the case of definition #2 of “forbid,” a person who abstains from meats may be hindered or prevented from abstaining by the circumstances they find themselves in, such as being invited to eat at a member’s house or church function and discover that everything offered is meat or meat-based, not due to necessity or famine, but due to the willful disobedience or ignorance of the Lord’s law of meat consumption. Such an individual or family, finding themselves in such a circumstance, would have to leave and find nourishment elsewhere, or go hungry or participate in eating meat in a time which wasn’t winter or famine or cold, thus being forced to break the law also.

Of the two listed definitions for the word “proscribe,” only definition #2 applies to the revelation.

The word “abstain” only has one listed definition, so this makes our job easier.

The phrase “forbiddeth to abstain from meats,” which so many people can’t seem to process, becomes exceptionally clear in its meaning once we’ve reviewed the above definitions. But in case it still isn’t clear, I’ll give you some illustrations as to what this phrase is talking about.

There are two people being referred to in this phrase: he who is doing the forbidding, who we will call The Forbidder, and he who is doing the abstaining, who we will call The Abstainer.

The Forbidder

The Forbidder is the one being condemned in this revelation. The revelation reads:

And whoso forbiddeth…is not ordained of God. (D&C 49: 18 )

The word “forbid” is conjugated. It is the action word. “Whoso” is the person who is performing the action and it is this action that is being condemned, the action of forbidding. The word “forbiddeth” is merely an archaic way of saying “forbids.” Another way of saying the same thing is “whoever forbids” or “whoever is doing the forbidding” is not ordained of God. Once you grasp the concept that there are two people, one who does the action (The Forbidder) and one who receives the action (The Abstainer), and that one of these people is being condemned, the revelation becomes very clear.

The problem most people have is determining just what The Forbidder is forbidding. Yet, we don’t have this problem with other uses of the same word. For instance, here are two examples: “John forbids Suzie to go outside.” “John forbids to go outside.” In both of these sentences, the person (John) is The Forbidder. In the first example, The Forbidder was forbidding one person (Suzie) from going outside. In the second example, The Forbidder was forbidding everyone in general from going outside. In the same way, The Forbidder of the revelation is forbidding everyone in general from abstaining from meats.

Just as in these examples, in which first there was a conjugated verb (John forbids) and then an infinitive verb (to go), so the revelation contains a conjugated verb (whoso forbiddeth) and then an infinitive verb (to abstain). Let’s put John and Suzie into the revelation to make it easier to see what is happening. We’ll make it in the form of a conversation:

John: “Suzie, I forbid you to abstain from meats.”
Suzie: “But I want to abstain from meats! I like to abstain from meats!”
John: “I don’t care. It is wrong to abstain from meats. The Lord has ordained meat for our use and we should eat meat. I forbid to abstain from meats.”
Suzie: “You can’t forbid to abstain from meats. The Lord said, ‘And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats…is not ordained of God.’ So, if you forbid me to abstain from meats, you are committing a sin.”
John: “Oh, er,…uh,…well, in that case, I don’t forbid to abstain from meats. If you want to abstain from meats, go right ahead and abstain from meats. You’ve got your free agency.”

“John forbids to abstain from meats.” “And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats.” The English language rules apply to the revelation just as much as they do to our examples and thus the revelation makes perfect sense.

The Abstainer

The Abstainer is the one being upheld and justified in this revelation. The revelation reads:

to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same (D&C 49: 18 )

The comma and phrase that follows the word “meats” is but a clarifying phrase, clarifying the meaning of abstention from meats. In other words, the Lord doesn’t mean people who avoid touching meats or being around meats, but He specifically is talking about people who don’t eat meats. The people who don’t eat meats are The Abstainers, and these people are the ones being wronged by The Forbidder. Thus, it is The Abstainer who is justified and is not called to repentance, whereas it is The Forbidder who is the one who is devoid of the Spirit of God, who “is not ordained of God.”

The interpolation of the footnote

Our footnote (“IE biddeth to abstain, see v. 19.”) claims to have received revelation that “forbiddeth” means “biddeth,” which would make the sentence mean the exact opposite of what it does, and it seems to take its authority from an interpretation of verse 19, which reads:

For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. (D&C 49: 19)

It is important to note that verses 18 and 19 are both part of the same sentence, so in order to understand both verses, we must take all parts of the sentence together when interpreting it in any way. Accordingly, here is that sentence:

And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; for, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. (D&C 49: 18-19)

It becomes apparent, once a person understands that The Forbidder is the one being condemned, that the Lord is attempting to teach His law concerning the eating of meat, which is currently found in D&C 89: 12-13 and 15, in which it is indicated that the Lord is pleased when meat is not consumed, but that He allows it only during times of cold or famine or winter.

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine…And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. (D&C 89: 12-13, 15)

The key to the revelation found in D&C 49: 19 are the words of the Lord revealing just what these animals and fowls and everything else that comes of the earth are ordained for. They are

ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. (D&C 49: 19)

These creatures are ordained for food and for raiment, but additionally they are ordained that man might have in abundance. You cannot have an abundance of animals and of fowls and of that which comes from the earth if you are killing these things and eating them. Abundance comes from allowing things to live and multiply.

The Lord was attempting to teach these Shakers and all others who would get the chance at reading this revelation, that He neither commands nor forbids to abstain from meats, and that He neither commands nor forbids to eat meats, that each person has their free agency and could do what they wanted to do with the things of the earth, including killing and eating them, for He ordained that man can kill and eat animals in certain, specific circumstances, namely, in times of famine and excess hunger, in winter, in cold, or in other words, to save their lives, but that there were stiff penalties assigned to those who killed and ate flesh without having a genuine need to do so.

And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands. (JST Gen. 9: 11)

The evidence that the Lord is decidedly against the killing and eating of animals where there is no need is found in D&C 49: 21:

And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need. (D&C 49: 21)

Lest we get the wrong idea…

After mentioning that the things of the earth (beasts, fowls and all) are so that man might have in abundance, the Lord is quick to cut off any erroneous thoughts that we would be justified in the attempt to accumulate wealth at the expense of others. The very next verse, verse 20, plainly indicates that the temporal inequalities which we see around us are the result of sin and not the plan of God:

But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49: 20)

And so, although the Lord wants us to have in abundance, He wants us to share our wealth with all, so that all may enjoy the fruits of the earth equally.

The false footnote revisited

Another problem with this pesky footnote (“IE biddeth to abstain, see v. 19.”) is that we find the same use of the word “forbiddeth” in another part of the revelation, in verse 15, which reads:

And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man. (D&C 49: 15)

Here, in this sentence, if we use the same rules followed by our uninspired footnote, that “forbiddeth” means “biddeth,” what we get is something entirely at odds, again, with our revealed religion. Putting the word “biddeth” into this sentence renders it:

And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso [biddeth] to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.

The sentence becomes entirely contradictory, for if marriage is ordained of God unto man, then whoso biddeth to marry should also be ordained of God, not the reverse. It becomes apparent, then, that if the Lord knew how to correctly use the word “forbiddeth” in verse 15, He would also know how to correctly use the word “forbiddeth” in verse 18. Our footnote is making the false claim that the Lord doesn’t know the difference between “forbiddeth” and “biddeth.”

More on the subject of meats

In 1 Timothy 4: 1-3 we find another interesting reference to meat-eating:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (1 Tim. 4: 1-3)

In this scripture, we get a view of another false doctrine, that of commanding to abstain from meats. Just as he who forbids to abstain from meats is not ordained of God, because each person has the free agency to not eat meat, should they desire not to eat, so is he who commands to abstain from meats not ordained of God, since everyone has the free agency to eat meat, should they desire to eat, knowing that it is allowable under certain, justifiable circumstances.

It should be noted that if we use the word “biddeth” in D&C 49: 18, we essentially get the counsel recorded in 1 Timothy 4: 3, that “commanding to abstain from meats” is not of God. “Biddeth to abstain” is the same as “commandeth to abstain.” The Lord, knowing that he had already covered the sin of commanding to abstain in 1 Timothy 4: 3, apparently decided he was going to cover the other sin of forbidding to abstain, which was equally sinful, in that both sins abridged the free agency of man in a thing in which God had given unto man to decide (the eating or abstention of meats.)

The Shakers

It is interesting to note that verses 18-21 of section 49 actually are telling the Shakers that although their doctrine of abstaining from pork was not inspired of God and was not the true doctrine of God, they would not be forced to abandon the practice should they decide to continue to abstain from eating pork or any other meat, that should any latter-day saint forbid them their practice of abstaining from meats, the latter-day saint would be the one devoid of the Spirit of God, not them. The revelation essentially was telling them they could continue this practice without persecution in the church.

Next Word of Wisdom article: Strong drinks, mild drinks, hot drinks, wine, etc.

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